Today marked the start of college basketball season. And apparently, as a way to celebrate, the NCAA decided to announce a bunch of future NCAA Tournament sites.
The sites for 2021 and 2022 were already set - and on Wednesday, they rolled out the sites for 2023, 2024, 2025 and 2026.
While admittedly, I know that thinking about where your team will play in March 2025 doesn't sound all that interesting right now, there was one thing worth noting among the announcements: For the first time ever, the NCAA Tournament will be coming to Las Vegas.
The city will host the 2023 West Regional Final.
Put simply, this is a huge step in the right direction for the NCAA and a great sign for college basketball. For years, the NCAA has tried to pretend that sports gambling was the root of all evil and refused to put any official NCAA events in Sin City. This, despite the fact that there is a prominent program within the city's limits (UNLV) and the fact that four conference tournaments are played in the city (the Pac-12, WCC, WAC and Mountain West). It made no sense and was simply an archaic way of thinking.
Apparently however, some combination of a brand new arena (T-Mobile, where the Las Vegas Knights play) and legalized sports gambling becoming mainstream appear to have pushed the NCAA to allow games in Las Vegas. After all, if New Jersey or Indiana - two states where sports gambling was recently legalized - can hold NCAA Tournament games, why can't Nevada, and more specifically Las Vegas?
Regardless, this is awesome news and will be great for fans traveling to see their teams. To take it a step further, it also means something else altogether: We are probably heading for a moment in time, in the not too distant future, where we get a Final Four at the new Las Vegas Raiders Stadium. As someone who has been to multiple Final Four's, I can't tell you how awesome that will be.
In addition to the Vegas news, the biggest news to come out of Wednesday's announcements was future Final Four sites through 2026. We already knew about 2021 (Indianapolis) and 2022 (New Orleans), 2023 (Houston) and 2024 (Phoenix). On Wednesday, we found out that in 2025 the Final Four will return to San Antonio and in 2026 it will head back to Indianapolis.
For a full list of future NCAA Tournament sites, click here.